Celebrating Mary Herschend

In honor of Women's History Month we recognize one of our founders, Mary Herschend.

Mary was born on a farm near Table Grove, IL in 1899 and educated at Eureka College in Illinois and Ohio State University. She was well-read, with a preference for Early American antiques, natural minerals and tasteful, artfully subdued rusticity in both home décor and landscaping.

She and her husband Hugo first visited the Ozarks on vacation in 1946. Exploring the countryside brought them to Marvel Cave where they went on a tour. Mary later recalled “…everybody had their own lantern. We walked down a wooden stairway to the top of the tower and walked into this big room.” It was a sight she would never forget and it lead her and Hugo to eventually move to the Ozarks and take over the cave tour business. Thus the dream of Silver Dollar City was born…the park opened in May of 1960 with her two sons Pete and Jack by her side and together, the Herschends would grow it into the internationally-awarded theme park that it is today. Mary would say, “Pete runs Silver Dollar City, Jack runs Marvel Cave – and I run the two boys.”

In 1968 the Small Business Administration named Mary as “Missouri Small Businessman of the Year”. In 1972 she received the Missouri Tourism Award and 1977 the Missouri Chamber of Commerce named her as the “Leading Lady of Missouri Tourism.” Before her passing in 1983, the Missouri House of Representatives passed a resolution stating the House “recognizes the life and work of Mary Herschend those attributes which characterize and define a true Missouri pioneer...who greatly contributed to the rise of tourism as one of Missouri’s top industries.”

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